Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, March 16, 2019


Gerald W. Swan was a successful wartime British publisher thanks to his generous supply of paper stock on hand when the war began.  Swan had operated a book stand and, in 1930, ventured into publishing.  His sales were slow but when the government restricted paper at the beginning of the war Swan had all this lovely cheap, thin paper on hand.  With paper restrictions, Swan had few competitors and began pushing out novels, magazines, and comic books.  Among this magazines were Boxing Shorts, Complete Cowboy, Hooded Detective, Occult Shorts, Racing Shorts, and Weird Shorts.

In 1940, Swan began publishing comic books.  American comics were no longer being imported and at least one large British comic publisher stopped their publications.  His wartime comic books followed an American format but, after the was, he began using the British format for his books.  Over nearly two decades, Swan issued nearly four dozen comic book titles, including annuals and books licensed from American publishers.

The compilation below presents some of the adventures of Swan superheroes.

  • The Red Avenger.  "No one would think that the quiet student in dark spectacles who frequented West End nightclubs and cabarets was The Red Avenger, a brilliant scientist, who used his inventions, including an antigravity device, to fight crime."
  • The Invisible Avenger.  Dick Beston's father has made a "wonderful discovery" but when Dick arrives at his father's home he finds the scientist murdered.  The killer was a man called Sardoni, who wanted the elder Beston's latest formulas.  The formulas were securely locked in a safe so Sardoni's quest failed.  Among the notes in the safe was a formula for invisibility.  Using the formula, Dick becomes invisible and goes after the Sardoni gang.  In the last panel Dick vows to "make war on all the rogues and pests that prey on the people of this country.'
  • The Bat.  I can't tell you much about this character.  He's a mysterious hooded man in a dark costume.  He's quick with his fists and uses his bat wings to glide in the darkness.  That certainly doesn't ring any bells with me.  In this adventure he goes after "unscrupulous industrialist" Conn and his even more unscrupulous valet Battersby after they have stolen the formula for a new plastic.  Oh, and there's a gorilla.  And if you have a guy who's a bat, you gotta have a...
  • Catgirl.  Julie Carroll is Catgirl and she has a Catmobile.  Catgirl is pitted against the Black Empress who is threatening to blow up a power plant.  The black Empress has a plane but it doesn't have a catchy name.  Catgirl is aided by Inspector Terry Lee who calls her a "crime crasher."  The entire story is told in a herky-jerky manner that may keep the reader confused.
  • The Phantom Raider.  I don't know the Phantom Raider's real name but this Robin Hood is a rich guy who has a butler named Jenkins.  When the theft of fifty large diamonds resulted in  the murder of the man carrying them while on a train, the Phantom Raider is falsely accused of the crime.  As the PR goes into action it's up to Jenkins to actually solve the mystery and nail the real baddie.
  • The Phantom Raider redux.  In another tale of the Phantom Raider, a phony minister is part of a drug-running gang.  He and his partner get their comeuppance after he literally runs into the Phantom Raider and Jenkins.
  • Zark.  Zark is a Martian boy who landed on Earth in his spaceship and now attends Marton, a public school, with his chums Bill Martin and tony Wallace.  Zark closes out this compilation with a ten-page prose story written by Ian Patrick, "Zark's Flying Rescue."  


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